How 2021.2 Is Remaking the Future of Enterprise Search

By Linh Nguyen

Published on May 20, 2021

How 2021.2 Is Remaking the Future of Enterprise Search

Data search just got better. With the latest release of 2021.2, Alation has upgraded search with ranking that weights valuable social signals, and a new view that shares metadata alongside results. Searchers can now hunt through data domains, with filters that help them spotlight the best asset more quickly.

Improved Search Ranking

When it comes to enterprise search, Alation has always led the industry. This is because our search surfaces results based on relevance. Like Google PageRank, Alation search uses clues about usage to influence rankings. Such clues include data popularity and top users. With the release of 2021.2, we take it a step further by adding more social indicators for even better rankings & relevance.

Search results ranking & relevance now takes clues from social indicators. Alation catalog users have always been able to endorse or deprecate a given asset or dataset, signalling to their peers, “this asset is trustworthy” or, by contrast, “warning! Use at your own risk! This asset is deprecated.”

With this update, we’re leveraging that tribal knowledge to influence all search rankings, illuminating the best assets that people trust. Specifically, user-created endorsements will boost ranking scores while deprecations will penalize rankings scores.

How 2021.2 Is Remaking the Future of Enterprise Search: SQL Server

Admins also have the option to customize the score associated with these trust flags (endorsements & deprecations). This empowers admins to effectively “endorse the endorsements”, further influencing rankings to promote the best assets to the right people.

Search Table View

Search Table View is a fantastic addition that we’re excited to introduce in this release. Some people really like to see metadata alongside their search results. Metadata is a broad term, but it describes the user comments about data, quality flags, and other social signals we call tribal knowledge.

How 2021.2 Is Remaking the Future of Enterprise Search: Search Table View

With Search Table View, users can customize search of metadata, including standard and custom fields, to display in their personal result page. This gives users a holistic view of search results alongside the relevant community knowledge. The filter section, now, too, is collapsible, so users can see more results in one view. Search Table View appears in your search results page, offering a condensed overview.

Search Metadata: Comments, Trust Flag Text, BI custom SQL

What if users want to search through all comments made by their colleagues? What if they’re hunting specific SQL snippets in Tableau? With 2021.2, we’ve expanded searchable metadata in the catalog, so users can now search:

  • Source Comments

  • Trust flag text

  • Tableau custom SQL

This is a powerful research tool! People with questions about a specific database or data source can now search through all comments surrounding that source. Folks with keyword-focused questions can easily hunt for the answers they need, surfacing those keywords from a vast amount of metadata.

further sharpen these search capabilities:1) BI owner from BI properties, and2) Partition Keys for data tables

Those searching for BI objects owned by an individual — or a table with a specific primary key — can now use these filters to quickly narrow down their search results.

A comprehensive filter capability helps users easily narrow down their search results and improve their search successes. In a vast library of BI assets, users now have the tools to surface the more relevant assets much more quickly.

We also leverage lexicon to improve search in 2021.2. Admins can now confirm the lexicon abbreviation pairs, which are most appropriate for their organizations.

Alation has always leveraged machine learning to translate technical abbreviations into natural language. This allows users to search using normal terms like “customer” — even if that customer data lives under a label, like, “cstmr_ID.”

With this update, people have the freedom to search using either natural or technical language. As a result, if a user searches for the abbreviation as the keyword, the search results will automatically show expansion terms as well, educating users on all the technical terms associated with a broad term, such as “customer.”

How 2021.2 Is Remaking the Future of Enterprise Search: Lexicon Pairing

Domains Deliver Better Browsing Experience

In 2021.2, we focused on improving the browsing experience for domains. Not only can users now see all the objects associated with a domain on the domain object page — they can filter and use keyword search to quickly navigate to their desired objects.

Domains now serve as a one-stop knowledge center for users. With 2021.2, folks can see all objects and content on their team’s domain page. The new view also pulls in the appropriate metadata for additional context.

Furthermore, we’ve expanded the object types domains support. Prior to this release, we supported RDBMS, Articles, BI and Query. But with this release, we now support:

  • Glossaries

  • Dataflow

  • File Systems

  • NoSQL, and

  • API Resources

This wider variety empowers admins to curate the best content for domains. Admins can improve the data shared to specific teams within domains, aligning folks with shared goals by department, such as HR or R&D. Those teammates, in turn, are better aligned with a common domain showcasing vital information.


As our cofounder Aaron Kalb once said, “anything is possible when the smartest people have access to the best information.” With search updates in 2021.2, we’re giving those people even better tools to access even better information.

This update coincides with Alation being named a winner for the Best Data Governance Solution by IMD/IRD!

  • Improved Search Ranking
  • Search Table View
  • Search Metadata: Comments, Trust Flag Text, BI custom SQL
  • Lexicon Pairing for Smarter Search
  • Domains Deliver Better Browsing Experience
  • Conclusion
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